Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada will bring back it’s CF-18 fighter jets despite the fact that they were a huge factor in beating back a large scale ISIS attack in Northern Iraq.
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria forces launched a three-prong offensive that opened with mortars, rockets, and several car bombs; it was reported to have involved hundreds of extremist fighters. Canadian special forces involved in training Kurdish forces in the area helped lay down supporting fire for Kurdish troops, while the CF-18s provided air support.
The Liberal Party campaigned in the last election on the promise of bringing the planes home. Their plan is change the focus of the mission to training local troops with Canadian special forces.
Critics of the plan point out that most of the NATO partners involved in the fight against ISIS have increased their presence in Iraq and Syria in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
“The Liberal policy to withdraw our fighter jets is completely incoherent,” said foreign affairs critic Tony Clement. “The government still hasn’t articulated any clear plan for what the mission will look like once they withdraw the CF-18s.”
The NDP is looking for a full parliamentary debate on “any new training mission,” in light of the combat situation that Canadian trainers found themselves in this week.
Canada has a total of 69 special forces trainers on the ground in northern Iraq who are working with local forces.
Sajjan said he has discussed bolstering the training mission with U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon to determine what is needed in the region.
Canada is also being asked by allies to keep its military refueling aircraft and surveillance planes in the fight against the Islamic State, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, which he said the government was considering.